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The BA Thesis Seminar is for students who are interested in pursuing independent study and deepening their research skills. This seminar is well suited for students who plan to pursue graduate degrees.
The BA Thesis Seminar guides students engaged in research design, data collection and analysis, and thesis writing. For students pursuing the thesis capstone option, registration for the BA Thesis Seminar PBPL 29800 is required in Autumn Quarter of the final year of study in the major, though the thesis process continues through Spring Quarter.
Successful completion of the BA Thesis capstone option involves passing PBPL 29800, while also meeting related thesis requirements, including participation in the BA Thesis Symposium in February, and the timely submission of an acceptable polished draft in March and final BA paper in April.
Only students who successfully complete a BA thesis are eligible for honors.
Enroll in the BA Seminar: Public Policy (PBPL 29800) for credit in autumn. Although you only register in the autumn quarter of your final year, the seminar meets once per week throughout Autumn, and then in small group meetings with a preceptor, and/or one-on-one in winter and spring quarters. Grades for the course will be calculated on the basis of performance and progress through Autumn, Winter, and Spring, and will be assigned in the Spring, following the submission of the BA Thesis.
Early fall: Submit IRB protocols for human subjects research (please see IRB handout for details about the process and about human subjects research). In order to collect data with human subjects, it is highly recommended you submit this protocol as early as you can.
Mid-December: BA Thesis Long Write-Up, formerly Autumn Draft, due (about 15 pages).
The College Center for Research and Fellowships provides opportunities for research funding and other supports. Please, visit their webpage for additional information.
Students do not register for the BA Seminar in the Winter quarter, but continue to meet with their preceptors on a regular basis. Students on extended status must inform the Public Policy Administrator about their change of status and must continue to meet regularly with their preceptors and submit assignments.
Early February: Annual Senior BA Symposium
Early March: Polished Draft and Second Reader Forms due to preceptor
Around 1-2 weeks after submission: Preceptors will provide feedback on Polished Drafts
Mid-April: Final Draft of BA Thesis due
Mid-May: Celebration! Senior Public Policy Dinner, Speaker Presentations, & Capstone Prizes
Note: If you are planning to graduate prior to Spring quarter please contact the Public Policy Administrator for your BA draft due dates.
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BA theses should be more comprehensive in both information gathering and analysis than a term paper. As distinct from a term paper, the BA thesis requires primary data collection and analysis. We emphasize developing a good policy question, settling on an appropriate methodology and utilizing analytical tools to answer the question.
To be eligible for honors, students must satisfy two requirements:
The Albert C. Svoboda Fellowship provides summer research fellowships for rising fourth-year College students majoring in Public Policy to engage in faculty-guided research in the Chicago area on Chicago-based topics.
Awards are for various amounts, typically between $1,000 and $4,000, based on the research proposal and proposed budget. Svoboda Fellows are responsible for submitting a post-research report at the end of the summer.
Your thesis can build upon work you have done elsewhere. However, the BA thesis should be an original paper.
You cannot double count a paper you have written for another course (this also means that you cannot just extend a paper written for another course). Whatever is being used from previous work should be disclosed and cited as such in the thesis. Please note that failure to do so will be considered a violation of academic integrity (i.e., plagiarism). It should be clear that the BA thesis develops new insights that are distinct from those developed in previous work.
Keep in mind that the BA thesis should be structured around the analysis of primary research. Given that most of the papers you have written are based on secondary data, it is likely that papers you have written for other courses would be primarily useful for background, and for helping to develop your research question. If you are considering building on work done for another class, please consult your preceptor.
Public Policy majors writing a BA thesis are strongly encouraged to link their specialization with their BA thesis, though such a link is not formally required.
No. A second reader/faculty adviser is beneficial for providing additional support for your BA thesis work, but they are not required to receive honors for your BA paper.
Note: All Public Policy BA papers are eligible for honors whether or not students work with a second reader. Students have successfully graduated with honors in Public Policy without having a 2nd reader/faculty adviser.
Students having second readers are required to complete the Second Reader Information and Confirmation form.
Your BA thesis is read by your preceptor and your second reader/faculty adviser who evaluates your paper as 1) acceptable; 2) not acceptable: or 3) acceptable with an honors recommendation.
A student who satisfactorily completes the BA Thesis Seminar (autumn and winter) but does not complete a BA thesis receives 100 course credit, but is not eligible to graduate unless the student completes the BA Project Seminar (PBPL 29500).
Learn more about the BA Project Seminar.